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Stitching in Ombre – A New Approach in Monochromatic Embroidery


Embroiderers love threads – it’s a well-known fact. We love the sheen or the matte, the brights and the dark. Truth be told, many embroiderers are hesitant to select their colors, they’re afraid they’ll make a ‘mistake.’  Many stick to one-color embroidery designs. Monochromatic doesn’t have to be boring rather, it can be quite dramatic.  Stitching in Ombre is great way to learn about thread value and its appearance on fabric.

You’ll find a fantastic example of ombre stitching in the latest issue of Designs in Machine Embroidery Vol. 99 July/August 2016.MagBL

Nancy Zieman’s Ombre: Black to White illustrates how to achieve an ombre look by repeating one or two designs in gradated thread values.

She advises stitching your threads in a satin column on the selected fabric. Study your sample and work on the arrangement of colors to help move the eye across the embroidery canvas.SampleBL

It’s also a great idea to print templates of the designs so you can ‘see’ the layout before you stitch. Make notes to remind yourself what thread spool to use and when to use it.  You’ll be glad you did if your stitching get interrupted.

I fell in love with this look. It has everything that appeals to me about embroidery – the dark on dark at the bottom of the vest is a textural feast for the eyes, then as the eye moves up the garment, the thread gets lighter and lighter. At the top of the vest, the last horizontal row is stitched in white bringing attention to the face.  The sparkly zipper is just plain fun and adds a wonderful finishing touch.

Next time I’m out shopping for thread, I’m going to make sure I buy not only the color on my shopping list but all of its companions up and down the value scale.

Tell me, would you wear this vest? Do you like the technique?  What color would you experiment with for your own wardrobe?




  • Ennis A

    Yes, I subscribe to the magazine and love, love this look. Already planning for my own project. But what color will I use!!! Fun, fun!!

  • Kathy E.

    I do like that vest and yes, I would wear it! It’s beautiful! I would like to experiment with shades of purple, but not sure what I’d put it on.

  • Shirley Clark

    That is so cool! Oh yes, I’d wear that! I’d love to play with these type designs.

  • Michelle

    i love the look of this. I am not sure if I would stick to the black and white or go with shades of blue which is my favorite color

  • Robin Farley

    Just stunning, I love the way the colors blend from one shade to the next. Oh I would wear that! I’ll have to plan on making something like a vest, I like the monochromatic look very much, but also think I would like to try something in Purples as well.

  • Maga

    Monochromatic designs are always beautiful and the vest is no exception. I would certainly wear it. I recently embroidered a skirt with designs all done in tones and tints of caramel on a cream background fabric. I was very pleased with the result.

    • eileenroche

      Sounds beautiful Maga.

  • Sandi Cunningham

    Great ideas!
    Where did you get the bling zipper?
    That really sets it off.

  • Kathleen De Verville

    Very nice, and yes I would wear this vest. i do subscribe to this magazine. I plan on making my own vest in this fashion.

  • Becky Thompson

    I adore this look. I saw it in the magazine and was inspired. There’s a lot of designs at Urban Threads that use this technique too so that has made it easy.

  • Nancy Weber

    I would absolutely wear that vest! And Black and white are my very favs, though I might try very pale greens on the black.

  • Karen S

    I would make it a jacket. I might use pinks.

  • Bonnie Gray

    Yes definitely would wear it! Loved this issue -so many projects to try! Now or find the time!

    • eileenroche

      Thank you Bonnie. This issue was one of our favs too!

  • Judy

    Oh yes, I would wear this vest. It is the first thing I have seen in a long time that makes me want to use my embroidery machine again!

  • Donna Fecteau

    i do love the vest. Yes I would wear it. I subscribe and was planning to try shades of blue.

  • Judy Hildebrand

    Yes I would absolutely wear this vest and I am torn between black and white as shown or my all time favorite dark brown tones. Will definitely be on my wish list for winter sewing projects once snow starts. Thank you for this great idea and blog.

  • Marti Morgan

    I do like the vest, I would wear the vest, I would like to do something like the vest – but in blue. Eileen the girls are talking about taking your and Marie’s May 2017 cruise – once wasn’t enough, ha ha. Wish I could join them. What a blast we had in February!!!

  • Carolyn

    Yes, I would definitely wear this vest. I’d make more than one in different colors.

  • Colleen

    I love the vest and would definitely wear it. I like the technique and want to try it soon. I think I will try the ombre technique in black and white.

  • Sylvia Erspamer

    I love the look and plan to make a jacket and use this – I like the black background with shades of gray and silver.

  • Beverly Anderson

    Love the vest and I would use my favorite Peacock threads on a black background!!!

  • Sara Redner

    I LOVE IT! I’ve never thought of doing that but will definitely try it. I have many spools of variegated thread but it doesn’t always stitch out like I want. Sometimes it comes out looking more like stripes.

    • cj

      I love the look of this vest too. I agree about the variegated thread looking more like stripes. I like the “twist” threads (two colors twisted into one strand). The textured effect is great. Wish manufacturers made more of these.

  • JD

    I also love this vest. Who wouldn’t like an ombre scheme? It is so subtle it makes you look at it twice to see all the features. Not only the ombre but the design used also.

  • Joan Shriver

    Yes, I would wear that vest. I’ve always loved black and white combinations. I think the prettiest would be white on white.

  • tracey

    Love this idea-would definitely wear it on a vest and a jacket. Where can we find the embroidery design shown in you example photo? Is this the project featured in the magazine? Thank you for the wonderful new technique to try!!

  • Deb

    Wow that is gorgeous! & yes I would wear it. I like black & white , but also think teal, purple or pinks on the black fabric would also be very pretty.

  • Kati

    Great use of tones! Not at all boring!!